Zika virus no longer public health emergency says WHO

by Shivam Sharma / Nov 19, 2016 / 0 comments

Zika virus no longer public health emergency says WHO

Zika virus no longer public health emergency

After virus was identified last year in Brazil, the latest outbreak of the virus spread to 60 plus countries and territories. The WHO's Emergency Committee, which declared an international public health emergency in February 2016, said the virus still represents "a highly significant and a long-term problem".

However, a WHO panel composed of independent experts said in a statement that while Zika and associated consequences remained a significant enduring public health challenge requiring intense action, it is no longer represented an emergency. Carried by mosquitoes, the Zika virus can cause the rare birth defect microcephaly and other neurological disorders in infants and adults.

Dr David Heymann, chairman of the Health Protection Agency, said in a news conference, "The Committee agreed that Zika must now be managed within the WHO as are other very important infectious diseases and other threats.". WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan accepted the committee's recommendations and declared an end to the emergency. The UN Health Agency maintained its recommendations, including that people exposed to the Zika virus should take preventive measures for 6 months to avoid sexual transmission.

The WHO's Health Emergencies Programme's Executive Director, Dr Peter Salama said, "We are not downgrading the importance of Zika. In fact by placing this as longer program of work, we are sending message that Zika is here to stay and WHO's response is here to stay in a very robust manner.".He also said that there have been around 2,300 confirmed cases worldwide of babies born with microcephaly, out of which most are in Brazil, but the figure is most likely a "significant under-estimate".

The US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) said, "It remains crucially important that pregnant women avoid traveling to areas with local transmission of Zika, because of the devastating complications that can occur in foetuses that become infected during pregnancy.".

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